Forests, rivers, wanderers in pickup trucks.

A man with a cardboard sign stands on gravel across the road from a bar called the Plantation, a Chinese restaurant that smells like stale cigarettes and an unfinished church office, all on the same corner. My brain goes off on a tangent that I believe was caused by the Chinese restaurant. Something about how the one downtown is better because the manager is kind and pretty and the wonton soup tastes even better when it rains… Before I can continue on to puddles and wet hair and all the best things that come with rain, the truck jolts and I’m back by the bar, the Chinese restaurant and the church office. My dad is pulling over…

With a smile and a nod, the hitchhiker jogs up to our Ford.
“Hey, do you mind riding in the back?” my dad asks pointing to the bed of the truck.
“Not at all, man! I’m trying to get to McCall.”
“Alright, we’re headed that way, hop in.”
My dad gets out to help the man and his bike safely into the bed of the truck. I just smile and wave. Dad helping out wanderers is commonplace. Honestly this bearded roadside guy appears to have more figured out in life than I do. He can say with complete confidence that he would like to go to McCall. I can say with complete confidence that I would like to go… somewhere with coffee…? Or without coffee. I really don’t care at this point as long as I get somewhere.

There are a few things I learned about this man along our journey: His name is Steve. He had just completed biking the state of Idaho when he met us. He has a friend who is also named Kira. He likes the way she says, “Keep it real, always.”


As we drive I glance at our wanderer in the rear-view mirror. He’s looking around, eyeing Idaho and all her beauty. She’s a curvy broad with her rolling hills in all the right places, flowers at her feet and birds in her hair. Staring at her is a given for anyone who is not blind.

The road continues on to the winding Lewiston grade. I think I’d be scared if I were in the back of a stranger’s truck, rushing past so many semis and clunkers turn after turn. But not this guy… If he ever had a worrier’s mind, he let it go a long time ago. He has the look of someone who’s known peace not just as a passerby but as a close friend.

When we drop him off in McCall, he still seems genuinely grateful, even though he just spent hours in the freezing wind, sitting on bark in a truck bed. What matters to him his that he’s made it to his next step. He’s that much closer to home in Oregon.

As less than inspired conversationalists, my dad and I speak to him briefly and without much intention. Then my dad shakes his hand and hitchhiker Steve walks out of the gas station parking lot and down the sleepy streets of McCall.

“Sorry I couldn’t think of anything meaningful to say to him,” my dad says to me as we climb back into the truck.

“I think helping him and saying nothing is better than saying the right thing and doing nothing.”
“Very true…” he replies, “That was deep.”
“Not really.”
“Any deeper and I’d need scuba gear.”
I smirk. The line about deep conversation requiring scuba gear is from another traveler he once met along the way.

“Keep it real always…” I say in my best Steve voice.

“Keep it real always,” he laughs.

And we wander on.


Miranda Rae

Day dreamer, head turner, lifelong friend.

When we were kids we used to play dress up, name trees, talk about boys and run away from home (until we felt like going home again of course).

Miranda Rae and I never really grew up. I don’t think we ever will.

edit2 edit2(--) edit2(-)edit3edit44(---)edit4(--)edit4(-)edit5edit1(-) edit1(_) edit1…Alright so we grew up a little.

Murals for Days…

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Awhile back I was asked to paint a mural in the youth room at Evangelical Free Church of the Palouse. I was excited to help but a bit nervous. I’d never painted something this big before… What if I turned out to be a failure when it came to putting together art of epic proportions? But pushing my fears aside, I boldly ventured forth in complete confidence. Actually that’s a lie… I just told myself if they hated it they could paint over it the next day with a fresh coat of white. No harm, no foul. Then I ventured forth… Semi boldly and somewhat confidently…

By the time spring break rolled around I had formed a vision in my head for the project and sketched out all the plans. My proposal was approved and I got to work. And wow, was it work. By the end of the first day my shoulders hurt, I had fallen of a ladder twice (While no one was looking… I’m still a closeted klutz.) and had spilled paint on the carpet multiple times creating the need to go sprinting through the big empty church for wet paper towels before the paint dried. Thankfully, each mad dash was successful. The carpet was as clean as when I began and no bones were broken by tipping ladders. But the mural was still not finished. I had to come back the next day… And the next day, totaling in over twenty-six hours.

In the grand scheme of things, twenty-six hours is nothing. Part of why it could be finished in that amount of time is all the help I received. In the end, I ended up being given much more than I could give back. I remember giggling quietly, painting a towering tree trunk, as Tiffany and her boyfriend argued over fonts for the verse above the window. I got to see my friend Kevin, not a painter by any means, working to get the sunset splotches exactly as Jason and I had done them until he had mastered the technique. As I freehanded birds in our bright sky that faded from yellow to orange to red, I sat perched on top of a wooden ladder, talking to Anita about all sorts of things and smiling to myself as she got indignant over wrongs in the world, using more compelling words than I could ever seem to find for myself. And then there was the baby shower… Oh my word the baby shower! After hours of solitude painting silhouettes on a wall dozens of ladies began popping in and out of my once isolated room. They ooo-ed and aww-ed over my progress far more than was deserved. Then they brought me into their party and gave me a place to sit and rest my legs. They fed me cake and much needed coffee. One lady even stayed afterword and chatted with me, rubbed my shoulders and insisted on me eating some good food she had found in the fridge. I had not even mentioned being sore or hungry. She somehow just knew how to help.

So I painted a few walls… That’s all I had to give. While the church liked the mural enough to not white wash it the next day, I know that eventually my work will be gone because it’s just a painting. But it’s a painting for people who care. For people who love their neighbors and serve others. I like to think that makes the mural a little bit more than paint on the wall. It’s a gift for friends.

Full Mural

(Please note: all of these silhouettes are from free clip-art I found online. They are not my original designs. Some were free-handed, others were traced via projector.)